Searching, asking

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By Stella A. Estremera

Spider’s web

Saturday, February 15, 2014

IT’S that season of the year, when young ones start arriving at the office to get to know us, our work, and yes, maybe find some guidance from the so-called mentors.

Among them, high school seniors who are more inquisitive than ordinary students. They settled right in and made a beeline toward my stack of books, feeling right at home amid the clutter in the office. Cool.

“Does that mean you believe in destiny?” one girl asked during our earlier group conversation where they were supposed to grill me, and grill me they did; properly skewered and basted.


“Let’s just say, everything is there for the taking, you only have to ask. But that was never emphasized to us,” I replied.

"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” I had to Google this to know which verse in the Bible it is because I do not memorize stuff, whether it be the bible or song lyrics. Google says it Matthew 7:7.

The problem is in the interpretation. Instead of just being told to ask and seek, we were told to kneel down in supplication and beg. I know I’m going to get in trouble for this, but this has to be said. Nowhere was it said that we should kneel down in supplication and beg for what we want. We were merely told to ask. If that asking goes with a please and a thank you, then so be it. But do not grovel, for errrrmmm… Pete’s sake. I know, I know, I wanted to say Chrissake, but I just might end up not just skewered and properly basted but burning at the stakes as well.

But that is how it is in this world. Those who staked their claim first get to interpret the world as they want to. As I write this, I remember one of those quotes that are shared over and over again on Facebook that says, “Buddha was not a Buddhist. Jesus was not a Christian. Muhammad was not a Muslim. They were teachers who taught Love. Love was their religion.”


But in the realm of men who want to rule and be ruled, we, the minions, allow ourselves to be led to strife because of the names we likewise allow ourselves to be called.

To the stakes! To the stakes! I can almost hear the chants as the blinded rush in as the Ku Klux Klan did before. Them, who brought crosses to cut up black folks in the name of white supremacy.

The past few months, I’ve been hanging around with friends whom I realized shared the same experiences with me… us, who vowed never to return to school the moment we were allowed to leave after the trauma and meaninglessness we felt all throughout. Yeps, no way can you make me take up a masteral course, not unless masters become a mentorship and no longer a classroom with grades. For years I have quietly rebelled, having an inkling that what was being stuffed in my brain will not be of much use when I go out and face the real world.

To this day, industry leaders rue the fact that there is a mismatch between what schools produce and what industries need. Guess what? This mismatch had long been recognized, I think that was 20 years ago when the dean of commerce of the University of Mindanao discussed that to me in an interview. I can no longer remember his name, but his words remained. And yes, I can still remember how he looked like. He was on the big side, wore glasses, and once had a hairlip. My memory works that way… in vivid pictures, not in names.

But then, we know how the education system moves ever so slowly, burdened by traditions and crippled by lack of resources. Changing prospectus would mean a lifetime. Changing styles would mean another lifetime. The interview was almost a generation ago, and the industry leaders are still talking about mismatch.

Why is that? My friends and I, we who ran as far away from the confines of the classroom the moment we were allowed to, agree it’s because the education system, that slow-moving burdened institution, is designed to produce workers; them who follow the command of a single leader to feed a machine that churns out the product. We are nothing but hands and that is what we were made to believe. Not me and my friends, yes, we who ran as far away…

It’s easy to manipulate really, for as long as you make very little fuss and noise about what is really a very simple instruction: ask, and you shall be given.

Grovel, pray, genuflect, plead. In so many ways, we are told to do this, when all we were told was to ask, seek, and knock.

In the process, we do not even know what to ask for, nor seek, nor where to knock. Simply because we were so smothered with all the trimmings and ceremonies, we can barely see the real message as we find meaning in the trimmings and the ceremonies instead of the power of the word and the power each of us are given.

The real challenge is in the asking, the seeking, and the knocking; to know what to ask, what to seek, and where to knock. That is all. Now, if you want this to go with the sound of harps, then that will be complicating the matter. Think it over.


Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on February 16, 2014.


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